Not Just An Ordinary Joe

Today’s category for our local call-in radio show was “Famous Joes”. Intermixed among the possible nominees presented by callers were stumpers asked by the host, Dr. John. He puts a lid on political cantankerousness and pot-stirring to lighten the satirical stew on Thursdays. Stumpers are an every weekday event. Some easy, others classified as “Mona Lisa Stumpers”, intended to challenge the highly intelligent among us – myself not included; although, I do manage to answer most correctly given enough time to get my thoughts together.

This morning, I punched in the seven digit number with my nominees: Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus, and Joey Bishop … bypassing the first stumper of the day. After a few minutes contemplation, I called back (asking permission to speak a second time not knowing if there is a rule prohibiting such). Dr. John, gracious host that he is, allowed the secondo with his premio.

I had to. This is in my nature. Unfinished mental issues are the hanging chads on the ballot that is my personality. As soon as the aggressive left thumb on my hand pushed that round button, … this happened:

Of course!! JOE camel … and he’s playing the piano – as I was in that picture, uhm, over 40 years ago. My submission was graciously listened to and formally rejected. In the time it took me to hang up the first time and redial, J.F. (a trivial rival) called in and nominated Sir. Camel during his first (and only, I might add) call of the day. I casually offered up a second nominee – a baby kangaroo, joey – as a runner-up. Lightly accepted and happily-hopped onto the list it was, so I felt better.

Ah, but the duet continued. Dr. John, seizing the moment, proffered a Mona Lisa stumper on the spot. I quickly answered Jackie Gleason only to realize, thirty seconds later, I left a massive hanging chad on another ballot with no third call available. Joseph Levitch was the answer. These moments bother me. It’s over two hours later, I’m in my concession trailer, should have my mind on delicious food, but nooooo.

“Famous Joes”, right? Ah, but the question was framed as a Mona Lisa Stumper which makes one think about the possibility of an overlap. One who should have been thinking – like me, perhaps – could have answered correctly. He asked the question quickly, in haste, hoping to catch me off guard … which he did quite nicely.

The call ended. My angst did not. I sit here with Jerry Lewis – the face behind both Ms. Lisa and Joe – casually by my side. He was the comedian Dr. John wanted as the answer … not Jackie Gleason. What was I thinking?

Of course!!, once again. It’s been a day of second guesses, I guess.

There’s some relief, however. When ballot ballyhoo and quick, unsure decision drops rain down from the why-sky, gives us some insight:

Like a friend of mine likes to say, “Life is a hard hat zone. We are always under construction.”

You are not who you were yesterday and you are not who you will be tomorrow. So, make peace with that. Life is full of second chances. We are always in a state of evolution.

In learning how to walk, you had to crawl first, and maybe you wobbled and skinned your knees a few times. But eventually, you found your bearings and trusted your stability. As tiny as you were, you were able to stand straight and put one foot in front of the other as you moved forward.

Not so far off from what it’s like as an adult.

Quite the words when I look at where I was years ago, staring into a keyboard with glasses and clothes fit for for the times.

I think it’s about second chances, not second guesses.

The overall Mona Lisa, or picture – as it is – in our lives, is not how many questions we answer correctly. It’s how many times we call in and try. We’re not going to ever answer all of life’s questions correctly or tear off all the chads cleanly, are we?

This isn’t an easy lesson for me to learn in my sixth decade of life. Just like those piano lesson early on, I will fight my stubbornness to the bitter end just as I, most assuredly, will enjoy the fruits of my hard work – pushing through the challenges of who I am.

… the person who will eventually forget the answer was Jerry Lewis, an extraordinary entertainer, philanthropist, and star.

We may not be all that but you and I are unique, special, and not the average Joe by any measure. If 2020 has a reason, it is to teach us life has other plans. Average, normal, and sameness aren’t hanging around much these days. I don’t need to repeat the big three, but I will. If Dr. John asked for them, you would be able to rattle off Masking, Distancing, and Hand-Washing, right? Through all of this, we’ve maintained our unique selves. Don’t think so? Just look at all the opinions scattered about on the windows of every computer screen.

2021 will be about chances … and I believe we may also be able to guess our decisions, too. Hopefully, the former overrides the latter. I purposely left out the obvious word because I want you to second the motion in your heart.

Remember, you’re not just an ordinary Joe, or Josephine, or JoEllen, or Jo. Be you – whoever you need to be.

For me, I’ll just be here honeymooning in my misery with Art, Audrey, and Joyce.

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